Writing Children's Books WithNelson R Elliott Founder Of Copper Jungle

Writing Children's Books WithNelson R Elliott Founder Of Copper Jungle

   Interview With Nelson R Elliott Founder Of Copper Jungle: Using Tech To Write Children's Books

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Opinions below do not necessarily reflect the views of TheTechBoy Media. TheTechBoy Was Compensated for this interview. 

Lightly edited

What Inspired You To Write Children's Books?

    Having kids. Before my daughter, my eldest, was born, I would read her bedtime stories and feel her kick from inside the womb. I started having my own ideas for stories and started writing them down. Friends and family liked them, so I started having them illustrated and published. 

Where did you get the idea to call the site Copper Jungle?

  It was originally set up as an internet publishing company and the idea was the internet was like a jungle, but made up of copper wires. It was intended to be a holding company, not a brand, but when I started publishing books, I just ran with it. I feel like it’s got an adventurous ring to it. 

Explain your writing process and any software you use to write the books?

  Normally I start with an outline, then develop the main body of the text. Once that’s 90%-95% complete, then I move on to illustration. 

  The first few I published, I had illustrated by a professional artist, but when COVID lockdowns hit, I got bored and bought an iPad and started doing digital paintings with it and took a shot at my own illustrations. The first few works were pretty rough, but I’m getting better and I enjoy the process. 

  I use the Affinity suite for artwork and publishing. It’s much better suited for that purpose than Word or Google Docs and much cheaper than Adobe. Plus, they aren’t part of the dystopian “content provenance” cooperative. The latest version of their Publisher software allows me to illustrate from a tablet, directly into the book document, which is wonderful for text-and-image layouts like children’s books. 

What do you do when inspiration strikes?

  Write. It. Down. I’m a bit of an airhead, so I’ve got a running note on my phone, a notebook on my desk, and a notebook by my bed so that any time I have an idea I like, I can write it down before it’s gone. It will be gone quickly if I don’t. 

  The level of inspiration varies too. I’ve got over 100 ideas written down. Some of them have felt so compelling I’ve stayed up late every night working on them until they were done. Others I’ve let simmer and finished a few years later. Many I still have to get to. 

How has writing books impacted your life?

  Primarily it’s been a wonderful creative outlet. I enjoy spending my evenings on writing and art, instead of TV or video games. It feels much more productive, although, it hasn’t made any money yet, so I guess it depends on your definition of productive. 

Where do you want this brand to be in 10 yrs?

  My BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal) is to compete with giant companies like Scholastic or Disney. I’d love to be able to make cartoons and movies. 

  More modestly, if I can get this project to a place where I can replace my income and make books full time, I would consider that wonderful progress. 

What sets your books apart from other children’s books?

I make them!

  Kidding aside, I’m a conservative and a Christian, which is a perspective that doesn’t show up in a lot of mainstream children’s books (and why I wanted to support a young Christian entrepreneur like you), but I don’t want to make “conservative kids books.” There are people who are doing that and there are some great products from those projects, but I hope the books I make can be enjoyed by almost everyone. 

  It is also just me, though, and I think not running my stories through lots of editors and wholesalers makes for some quirkier outputs, even if some books don’t sell very well as a result. For example, I read an article recently complaining that all the kid’s books about trees or gardens tell the same story about growing up. My garden book, “Garden Gruesome,” is definitely a different twist, based on recognizing, facing, and maybe even appreciating some of the darker sides of nature. Hopefully this helps kids come to grips with scary aspects of the world in a light-touch way or maybe it encourages a kid who thought gardening or outdoors were lame to give them another look. Either way, it’s definitely a different take. 

You have tech positive stories for sale? Why did you want to bring a positive outlook on tech?

  I try very intentionally to be future-positive in my books - which includes being tech-positive – where it makes sense. I’m writing for children and they have their whole lives ahead of them. That’s wonderful. I want to help them be excited and hopeful about that. 

  A lot of stuff is not very hopeful. It’s anxious and scary, especially in non-fiction and about child-rearing and climate change. It’s easy to let adult fears seep into kids books. 

  This is true about tech too. It seems pretty clear that technology has changed society in many ways, arguably not for the better. It also seems pretty clear that it isn’t going away. So, how do we handle that with kids? 

  I try to imagine the best possible outcomes – robots that live alongside us without replacing us, successful space exploration, new capabilities that allow us to retain our privacy, etc. That gives kids an optimistic anchor point, but I also think it helps us all realize the best-case scenarios. If we can’t imagine a good outcome, we can’t work toward it.  

What is your favorite piece of tech you use ina a daily basis?

I live in Texas, so my air conditioner. 

Do you worry AI writing books?

  A bit, sure, but I have bigger concerns about AI than having it replace me as an author. There are already so many people releasing self-published books that having a bunch of AI-created noise to cut through will probably not be an order-of-magnitude change in my marketing and business challenges.

 Centralization, ideological domination, economic disruption, or even a Skynet scenario are all probably scarier. 

  For now, it’s just a tool and one I’m trying to lean into. I’ve spent time playing with a few of the AI platforms to understand what they are capable of. 

  I actually just released my first project that used significant AI. I used Midjourney to create some highly-stylized ABCs for “A Fancy Alphabet.” It was an interesting use case. The AI did an excellent job creating textures and details, but still “understands” a brief less well than even entry-level illustrators. 

  Trying to get it to create a specific letter or actually make a specific style instead of the AI-default “fancy” took a lot of trying. I had to be very flexible with fitting the outputs into what I had in mind. 

  It’s a fast-changing space, though. It’s gotten detectably more powerful in the 6 months or so I’ve been playing with it. 

How good will it get? How fast? As in the stories, I try to look for the best-case scenarios. 

Opinions above do not necessarily reflect the views of TheTechBoy Media. TheTechBoy Was Compensated for this interview. 

God Bless and Tech Talk To You Later!!

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